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Neuroscience. 2012 Aug 30;218:185-95. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2012.05.022. Epub 2012 May 18.

Cholecystokinin knock-down in the basolateral amygdala has anxiolytic and antidepressant-like effects in mice.

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Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire (IGBMC), Centre National de Recherche Scientifique/Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale/Université de Strasbourg, Illkirch-Graffenstaden, France.


Cholecystokinin (CCK) is a neuropeptide widely distributed in the mammalian brain. This peptide regulates many physiological functions and behaviors, such as cardio-respiratory control, thermoregulation, nociception, feeding, memory processes and motivational responses, and plays a prominent role in emotional responses including anxiety and depression. CCK-expressing brain regions involved in these functions remain unclear and their identification represents an important step towards understanding CCK function in the brain. The basolateral amygdala (BLA) is strongly involved in emotional processing and expresses high levels of CCK. In this study we examined the contribution of CCK expressed in this brain region to emotional responses in mice. To knockdown CCK specifically in the BLA, we used stereotaxic delivery of recombinant adeno-associated viral vectors expressing a CCK-targeted shRNA. This procedure efficiently reduced CCK levels locally. shCCK-treated animals showed reduced levels of anxiety in the elevated plus-maze, and lower despair-like behavior in the forced swim test. Our data demonstrate that CCK expressed in the BLA represents a key brain substrate for anxiogenic and depressant effects of the peptide. The study also suggests that elevated amygdalar CCK could contribute to panic and major depressive disorders that have been associated with CCK dysfunction in humans.

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